Mr Aln Valley Railway, gone but not forgotten

Kay Seymour-Walker with Lord Beith at the official opening of the Aln Valley Railway in 2013. Picture by Pat Murphy
Kay Seymour-Walker with Lord Beith at the official opening of the Aln Valley Railway in 2013. Picture by Pat Murphy

A well-respected man, described as one of the founding fathers of the heritage Aln Valley Railway attraction, has passed away, aged 92.

Tributes have been paid to Kay Seymour-Walker, from Embleton, who died last month.

Kay on receiving his Honorary Vice Presidentship in 2011. Picture by Mark Hayton

Kay on receiving his Honorary Vice Presidentship in 2011. Picture by Mark Hayton

Mr Seymour-Walker contributed much to the Aln Valley Railway, offering many years of dedicated volunteer service.

He was also former chairman and honorary vice president of the Aln Valley Railway Society.

Mr Seymour-Walker studied engineering at Clare College Cambridge, then became a graduate apprentice at English Electric, working on diesel engines for railway locomotives, among others.

He subsequently qualified as a chartered mechanical engineer, and became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He later qualified as an architect, winning the prize for the best part-time student in the country.

He had a lifelong interest in mechanical transport, especially sporting cars, canal boats and, of course, railways.

His interest in the latter was sparked by a war-time recuperation from TB in North Devon, where cycling exploration led him to the remains of the-then not-long-closed Lynton and Barnstaple Railway (L&BR).

He subsequently joined and remained a member of the L&BR until the end of his life. In typical fashion, he was one of its rescuers and financial contributors.

In later years, he spent many happy holidays at Chelfham Station house, volunteering on the railway.

Following the death of his wife, he joined Tanfield Railway, meeting William Stafford, Chris Freeman and many others, and also leading to his purchase of a Ruston RB8 Loco, on which he delighted in giving rides to youngsters. This loco still greets Aln Valley Railway visitors to Alnwick’s Lionheart Station.

In 1995, prompted by a piece in the Northumberland Gazette, he became founder member number eight of the Aln Valley Railway Society, and was elected its first vice-chairman and, in due course, chairman.

He quickly found a role as the Aln Valley Railway’s almost-full-time architect and engineer, designing the early conversion of the Alnmouth Station cottages to railway-related uses and bunk-house.

He was responsible for developing the initial designs for the embankment and track layout at the new Alnwick Lionheart station complex.

Often found on hands and knees, repairing various railway vehicles and artefacts, he was multi-talented, even making an Aln Valley Railway proggy mat. He was made honorary vice president of the railway in the summer of 2011.

He will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues, not least at the Aln Valley Railway to which he contributed so much.

Mr Seymour-Walker’s death makes it a bitter-sweet time for the railway, which recently celebrated the award of major grant funding to help fund the construction of a platform and run-round loop at Greenrigg, approximately half of the way towards the ultimate goal of reaching Alnmouth Station.

The funding will cover groundwork costs, track work, construction material for the platform and the purchase of a coach for conversion into a café/waiting room/toilet facility.